Did the School District Administration Interfere in the 2016 School Board Campaign?

By Steve Bracci:

6/7/2017  – Today I sent an e-mail to the Collier County School Board, noting similarities between a recent modification of a Naples Daily News article to soften a very concerning statement by School Board member Erick Carter whereby he suggested that the United States should not call itself a “republic” because of the “immediate connotation” to the People’s Republic of China.!!

This episode harkened back to Summer 2016 when the Collier County School District’s communications department was tracking campaign news coverage and coordinating with the Naples Daily News for then-candidates Erick Carter and Stephanie Lucarelli.

Here’s my e-mail:

Board– do you know why the Naples Daily News softened the wording of the article about Mr. Carter’s comments describing why we cannot call our nation a republic because of its “immediate connotation” with the People’s Republic of China?

See attached highlights, comparing the two forms of the article, including the change to the article in the middle of the night at 3:27 a.m.  Did someone get the infamous 3 a.m. call?

[original article linked here]

[revised article linked here]

Is this the result of more orchestration between the District and the Naples Daily News – similar to last summer’s orchestration between the District’s Communications Department and NDN Editor Allen Bartlett during the course of the campaign for school board — with the intended purpose of changing the paper’s coverage to read more favorably for then-candidates Carter and Lucarelli?

See attached e-mail from June 2016, showing the District’s orchestration with NDN/Bartlett.  When Leanne Zinser asked Allen Bartlett to change the Carter/Lucarelli coverage, Bartlett responded “I’m on it.”When Zinser made the requested change, she said:  “If you could please have someone fix it, we’d very much appreciate it!”Who is the “we” in that sentence?  Logically, it can only mean the Patton Administration who seems to be interfering in the school board election, using District resources.

[Zinser – Bartlett June 20, 2016 email linked here]

By contrast, in August 2016 when David Bolduc asked Bartlett to balance out the negative reporting about candidate Lee Dixon with some similar important reporting about candidate Stephanie Lucarelli’s $1.4 MM home foreclosure, Bartlett refused to assist by responding:  “I am independent of and have absolutely nothing to do with the news operation.  Newsrooms are designed that way to create a separation.”See attached e-mail.

[Bolduc – Bartlett August 20, 2016 email linked here]

Ms. Donalds– as the champion for increased School District audits, will the next “best practices” audit look at the propriety of the Patton Administration’s communications department tracking election news coverage and orchestrating with the Naples Daily News to gain favorable coverage for certain school board candidates during the 2016 election?

Also with respect to “best practices” and coordination with school board candidates, the Patton Administration’s finance department orchestrated heavily with then-candidate Mr. Carter to bring him up to speed on budget issues, utilizing District resources.  Look up the dozens of e-mails between Mr. Carter and Siobhan Fox between April and July 2016.  School District budget issues were discussed quite heavily during the election debates, and I am sure that the information and assistance provided by the District’s finance department to Mr. Carter was quite helpful to him.

I brought this issue up at the Organizational meeting in November 2016.  Did Jon Fishbane or anyone else do anything about it, or did Jon and others just ignore it?

Ms. Donalds – If an audit finds that the actions of the Patton Administration were improper or even illegal, what happens next?

Finally, by copy to Leanne Zinser, this is a public records request for all original format Outlook invitations and replies for the District’s meeting with Erick Carter that took place in April 2016; also any other document that memorializes who attended the meeting with Carter, and what was discussed or anticipated to be discussed.


Steve Bracci

I then followed up with a second e-mail to the School Board as follows:

Board – attached is a video of Mr. Carter from the July 14, 2016, school board candidate debate sponsored by the Florida Citizens Alliance, Inc.  Note Carter’s nuanced understanding of the School District’s budget.  This follows the material support Mr. Carter received from the Patton Administration’s finance department from April through early July, 2016.

The video is courtesy of the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, Inc.  The link to the complete video is as follows:


Ms. Donalds and Ms. Lichter – did you have this level of understanding of the District’s budget prior to being seated as a board member?


Steve Bracci